Founded in 1961, the Northern Illinois University College of Business has graduated more than 42,000 students who have gone on to become successful business executives around the world. The NIU Department of Marketing offers a unique professional sales program that was the first university program to offer a Certified Sales Curriculum by the Professional Society for Sales and Marketing Training (SMT).
OUTGROWING ANALOG TECHNOLOGY
Some years ago the program implemented video recording technology in the class and simulation rooms to capture audio and video of role play sessions. They started with analog cameras and VHS recorders then moved to DVD recorders. The system head end was a large, noisy cabinet tied together with extensive cabling and switchers that required someone to physically initiate the recorders and select the proper camera. As the program evolved and grew to over 120 students a semester it became clear that the existing DVD recording technology was too limited and labor intensive to continue as originally designed. The faculty challenged NIU College of Business Technology Director Mark Misic to improve the recording technology.
“Our 1st goal is always to ensure we don‟t interrupt what are currently doing. The second is to enhance and make improvements to the current process.” stated Misic when asked about the major requirements for the video project. Misic provided NIU Chief Media Services Engineer Kevin Kantorski with the Marketing request for technology and the associated budget. From there it was up to Kevin to source technology that would meet the needs of the faculty while fitting into the budget. “I created less of a shopping list and more of a set of needs after asking the faculty what exactly they needed to accomplish” remarked Kantorski.
TRANSITIONING TO IP
The search proved frustrating and the project deadline was fast approaching. Kevin knew he wanted to utilize the power of the campus network by implementing IP based cameras, but the search for the right management platform was coming up short. “Most of the systems I found would have to be modified to adapt to this observation/recording application. I was thrilled when I found that the solution is designed for this application out of the box, but can still be modified for other University purposes” said Kantorski.
Ultimately NIU selected our technology as the vendor of choice and implemented the solution to manage video recording in one classroom and three interview/simulation rooms. Each room was outfitted with a new IP based camera and high quality microphone system. The new application sever was installed in a sever room and faculty can now initiate and schedule recording right from their desktop computers. Students are able to log into the system as well to search for their specific recording and view them as required for coursework. Technology Director Mark Misic was extremely pleased when the project was completed on time and under budget. “I was amazed at the total cost of the system compared to the others we looked at. It‟s hard to believe the old system cost more when you see the awesome quality we have today. It‟s incredible what Kevin was able to accomplish.” stated Misic.
After a full semester of use both the faculty and students have embraced the new system. Marketing/Sales Professor Rick Ridnour remarked “I don‟t normally have a high level of comfort with new technology. However, I was surprised at how easy the ISR is to use. It simply does everything they said it would and our students embraced it very quickly”.
The students are able to easily review their performance in the role play session while faculty can quickly create clips of “highlights‟ to save for future use. Also, with the ability to tag their guest speakers and vendor recordings with searchable data they can build a unique knowledge base to draw out relevant recordings to show in the classroom. NIU Media Services has even designed a mobile camera solution that can be plugged into any network jack on campus so the faculty can record any event in rooms that currently do not have cameras. “The network connectivity gives them more mobility and flexibility than they could have hoped for” said Doug Ball, NIU Media Engineer who assisted with the project. The faculty is excited for the next semester and plan on finding new ways to utilize the technology. They certainly feel like this type of technology implementation will help the College of Business differentiate itself from other programs.